By Huang Xilian
One of the most frequently-asked questions from my Filipino friends to me as the Chinese ambassador here is, which is your favorite tour destination in China? With footprints having covered almost every province of China, my answer to this question would be Xinjiang.
The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is the largest provincial administrative region in China, the land area of which is approximately equivalent to seven that of United Kingdom. There is a saying that, you could never learn the true magnificence of China without visiting Xinjiang. Rich in natural landscape and resources, Xinjiang is the place for you to explore stunning snow mountains, pristine lakes, vast grasslands, and seemingly endless deserts all at the same time. In this land of flourishing historic and cultural heritage, all ethnic groups are closely united as family members, just like pomegranate seeds sticking together to each other. During my many travels to Xinjiang, I have not only enjoyed its scenic landscapes, but also made many local friends including Uyghurs and Kazakhs there, who are warm, optimistic and hospitable. I have learned from them that the COVID-19 pandemic in Xinjiang has been effectively contained, and their livelihood has been ever improving with more job opportunities and higher income. Even from this side of the phone, I can feel their sense of fulfillment and happiness.
It is astonishing that a handful of western countries, led by the United States, made false accusations about so-called "ethnic genocide" and "forced labor" happening in Xinjiang. They even went so far as imposing unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity under the pretext of human rights. Any Chinese, especially the people of Xinjiang would deem such accusations beyond absurd. People would wonder, where did these charges come about? To be candid, they are no more than disinformation fabricated by some so-called "experts on China studies" who are anti-China and fake testimony from trained "witnesses." Perhaps Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired US Army Colonel, who participated in the instigation of the Iraq War, could tell best about the real intention behind those fabrication. Mr.Wilkerson once said undisguiedly that, "The CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it to foment unrest and to join with those Uyghurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external". Such confession would shed light on the facts that some western countries have left no stone unturned in concocting issues to smear China, using topics including Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
What is the truth of Xinjiang? Xinjiang-related issues are actually not about human rights, ethnicity or religion at all, but about the fights against violence, terrorism and separatism. As humankind's shared enemy, terrorism has inflicted untold suffering on the international community including China and the Philippines. There was a time when Xinjiang was a target of thousands of violent terrorist attacks, causing serious casualties of innocent people of all ethnic groups there. In order to address the root causes of the terrorism, the Chinese government has taken unrelenting efforts in anti-terrorism and de-radicalization in Xinjiang, which garnered ardent support of local people and proved to be effective. The region has not seen a single violent terrorist incident for more than four consecutive years, bringing about peace and stability long cherished by local people of all ethnic groups. The experience of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization in Xinjiang has also been commended by the international community.
The allegations of "ethnic genocide" and "forced labor" are preposterous. In the past 40 years, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has doubled, with the growth rate higher than that of the whole population in Xinjiang. The average life expectancy of Xinjiang population increased from less than 30 years in 1949 to 72 years in 2018. Even under the influence of COVID-19 pandemic, Xinjiang's GDP has increased by 3.4% year-on-year, higher than the average growth of national GDP. Over 3 million people under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty. While today's Xinjiang is beaming with hope and prosperity, truth itself prevails over disinformation and fabrication.
In the past few years, more than 1200 diplomats, journalists, and religious groups from over 100 countries and regions, including the Philippines have visited Xinjiang, many of them from Muslim countries. They saw with their own eyes a region thriving with stability and prosperity, and then stood up and spoke out for justice and facts. China has also invited EU envoys to China to visit Xinjiang on many occasions. However, the EU and its member states' diplomats have delayed the visit using various excuses and even making unreasonable requests as preconditions. We couldn't help asking whether hearsay lies interest them more than witnessed truth .
Truth is the Best Illustration. The Real Xinjiang in my eyes could be depicted in a picture I once posted on my Facebook. The picture shows beautiful scenery of boundless cotton fields with lines of advanced machinery harvesting in the sea of snow-white cotton, which is the world's best-quality cotton shipped to many countries. It has brought back my memories of Xinjiang in this beautiful season of spring, when the snow covering the Tianshan Mountain is melting, the wild apricot flowers of Ili blooming, and the cotton of Turpan about to be sown. I look forward to revisiting Xinjiang soon after the pandemic, and also welcome Filipino friends there, where you will definitely fall in love with this beautiful and promising land of China.
(Huang Xilian is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of the Philippines.)